There probably couldn’t be a more contrasting character to Peter Gago’s school master personality than that of the formidable Dave Powell, Torbreck’s loud, ebullient creator. Powell is a large physical presence with an equally large personality. If I was a farmer I’d describe him as a magnificent beast. Straight-talking, opinionated, passionate, occasionally crude, he is clearly a force of nature in the Barossa. Talking to him there’s a more than mischievous glint in his eye. It’s easy to imagine the hoot you’d probably have spending a night out on the tiles with Powell, though given his evident enthusiasm for a soiree you may well probably find yourself checked into A&E by morning.
Posts Tagged ‘Australia’
Sarah Ahmed led a thoughtful tasting of a dozen wines cherry-picked from the Margaret River at the London Wine Fair. There was great homogeneity in the wines shown, something of a characteristic of this region that sits below Perth in Western Australia. There is an obvious maritime influence with the Margaret River vineyard strip being between 3 and 7 kilometres from coast, and the entire area being an effective peninsula surrounded by the Indian Ocean. The season starts early and ends late, and the soils are generally gravelly and lean.
David Powell established Torbreck Vintners in 1994 after working at Rockford. The wines are a testament to his efforts in searching out old, dry-grown semi abandoned vine plots in the Barossa at a time when it seemed pretty unfashionable. Powell picks on phenolics not on grape chemistry and makes very individualistic, exotic, funky reds, high in flavour and in alcohol. Imagine a ménage a trois between Barossa Shiraz, Southern Rhone Grenache and Grand Cru Burgundy. Decadent and original wines which inspire near cult following. Torbreck itself is named after a forest in Scotland where Powell once worked as a lumberjack.
January is certainly antipodean month on the London tasting calendar. Just ahead of Australia Day, Wine Australia put on their annual trade tasting, christened A+ Australian Wine at the Saatchi Gallery in London’s Chelsea [above]. Much has been made of how Oz wine has lost its way in recent years, at least in marketing terms and certainly in the battle of the brands, but as the big conglomerates have lost ground, or at least looked uncertain, the real excitement in Australia is the bevy of superb wines being made both by established names and relative newcomers at the smaller and medium sized end of the business.